25 Reasons why Portugal should be your holiday destination in 2017
There are many reasons to visit Portugal, too many to list in fact. Therefore, the list below represents what we consider to be Portugal’s highlights and explains in part why this country is increasingly popular with UK holidaymakers.
1) Portugal has great weather.
Lisbon is the sunniest capital city in Europe. Portugal in general is also one of the warmest countries in Europe. On the mainland the lowest air temperatures on average in the winter are around 17 degrees and in the summer average temperatures can reach 27.3 degrees.
2) Portugal is affordable.
Portugal is less expensive than many other countries in Europe which is good news for UK holidaymakers who have seen the Pound depreciate against the Euro by 20% since Brexit. It is also true that Portugal is consistently ranked as one of the cheapest places to eat and drink in Europe.
3) Portugal has great beaches.
The great weather, coastline and resorts make Portugal a great place for going to the beach. Marinha near Carvoeiro in the Algarve for example is regularly ranked as one of Europe’s finest beaches and is a big attraction. Surfers also flock to the beaches in Portugal because it is regarded as one of the top surfing destinations in Europe.
4) Attractive to Wildlife Lovers.
Whether it’s inland or marine based, Portugal’s wildlife is diverse with bird watching particularly popular in the Tagus International River Natural Park. If marine life interests you there is dolphin watching in Lagos or the Sado estuary, just south of Lisbon.
5) Portugal is safe.
Portugal is one of Europe’s safest countries which is helped by the fact it has largely escaped from international terrorism acts. While thieves and pickpockets can be a problem, violent crime is rare. Happily, there are tourist police stations in Lisbon and some of the other larger cities.
6) Tavira may be the prettiest town in the Algarve.
Much of Tavira’s charm comes from the fact that it has not yet been overwhelmed by tourists or developers. Tavira, which is 18 miles south of the Spanish border, is steeped in history. It boasts architecture from Phoenician times through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The Gilão River, which runs through the town, is crowded with fishing boats, and the town has a relaxed vibe.
7) Silves has some impressive architecture.
Back when the Algarve was an Arab territory, Silves was its capital. The Castelo de Silves is one of the best-preserved castles in the Algarve. Silves also has a cathedral that had been converted from a mosque.
8) Lagos has beaches and a history.
One of Lagos’ many claims to fame is that Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) used the town as a base from which he launched ships to explore Madeia, the Azores, and parts of Africa.
9) Luz is a village with a booming tourist industry.
Luz is a small village with a large beach that started off as fishing village. Some of the architecture dates back to the Middle Ages or earlier.
10) The Algarve is a golfer’s paradise.
The Algarve has almost 50 golf courses, some challenging and some designed for novices. Vilamoura is the home of the Portugal Masters golf tournament that takes place in the fall. Vale de Lobo and Quinta do Lago are also known for their golf courses.
11) Lisbon is the second-oldest capital city in Europe.
As such, it has a lot of fascinating architecture and history. Both the Lisbon Cathedral and Castle of São Jorge date back to the Middle Ages, but there are archaeological digs near them indicating that Phoenicians had settled in Lisbon back in 1200 BC!
12) It also has the longest bridge in Europe.
The Vasco da Gama Bridge, named after the explorer who discovered a sea route to India, is 7.6 miles long. It crosses the Tagus River, which is the Iberian Peninsula’s longest river.
13) Portugal has terrific food.
Since it’s a small country with a relatively large coastline, Portugal is a great place for seafood. Towns like Setúbal, Lagos, Faro, Tavira and Sagres are all known for their fresh fish. Portugal also produces excellent cheeses, sausages and other meats.
14) Portugal has great wine.
Portugal is home to the Douro Valley, the world’s oldest wine region. Of course, the famous fortified wine port comes from Portugal. Many kinds of native grapes are raised in vineyards in places like Arraiolos, Beja, and Estremoz.
15) Porches has the best pottery in the Algarve.
Local craftsmen have made it their mission to preserve traditional techniques of making pottery. Some of those techniques date back to the Middle Ages or earlier.
16) Porto has many attractions beyond wine and wine shops.
Recognised as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1996, attractions include the Livraria Lello Bookstore, which is believed to have been the inspiration for the Hogwarts Library. The São Bento railway station is famous for its azujelo or tile panels that depict Portuguese history. The Clérigos church tower was the tallest building in Portugal when it was competed in 1763.
17) Loule is a popular destination for day trips.
Loule used to be a Moorish city, and its architecture reflects that influence. The covered market, which was built in 2007, has design elements inspired by North African styles. The Loule Castle contains a municipal museum containing Roman and Bronze Age artefacts.
18) Alvor has one of the largest beaches in southern Portugal.
Alvor is a small town with a big beach and a relaxed vibe. It is popular with tourists who prefer to stay away from the rowdier towns.
19) Carvoeiro is one of the most family friendly resorts in Europe.
There are famous grottoes and caves in nearby Benagil and tourists can hire boats to visit them, a must do excursion!
20) Albufeira is the largest resort town in the Algarve.
It is consequently a popular party town with a very active night life, especially in the Areias de São João area. The older part of town is quieter and more relaxed, but still has plenty of shops. Albufeira also has a marina, so visitors may go on fishing trips, boat rides or diving explorations.
21) The Ria Formosa Natural Park is considered one of Portugal’s 7 Natural Wonders.
It is a coastal lagoon and is considered important bird habitat. Over 20,000 birds stay in the Park during the winter and thousands more stop there while migrating.
22) The Algarve has Zoomarine.
Zoomarine is a family theme park devoted to marine life and conservation. It boasts an aquarium, a 4D cinema, exhibition centers and a water park.
23) Portugal has lighthouses.
The Cabo de S. Vincente, located near Sagres, is one of the biggest lighthouses in Europe. The lighthouse of Santa Maria is located on the southernmost point of Portugal and was once considered ‘the end of the world’.
24) Pasteis de nata - the Portuguese Custard Tart
The origins of this famous pastry go back to Liberal Revolution of 1820 when local monks desperate to raise funds starting selling the Pasteis de nata at a nearby sugar refinery. Remarkably the original recipe lives on at the Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon.
25) The Ruins of Milreu are believed to be the remains of a Roman villa and bath.
Discovered in 1877, the ruins date back to the 1st century AD. They were found in the village Estói, just a few miles north of Faro.